7/17/2014 2:36 PM
When one lives in the solitude of their own mind it can lead them to believe there is no hope, no future, and ultimately no point. When they’ve been told time and again that no one would help or that their life and struggles meant nothing, it becomes easy to fake that smile, the carefree attitude, and quietly slip back into the abyss of sadness once they’re alone again.
The unconditional trust and understanding and help that comes from another human being is an unparalleled, but often under recognized, relationship that can “save” victims of domestic violence emotionally and psychologically.
I will never forget the few times I opened up about the abuse as a child and was told that I was exaggerating or that must have been rebellious and in need of “discipline.” The feeling that I had been punched in the stomach, I felt like I was visibly deflating and would quickly retreat back to the shadows and hope to blend in. My heart sunk low in my chest I would promise myself never to trust anyone again but my desperation would cause me to forget and I would be crumpled time and again, like a paper bag, always regaining my shape but never able to smooth out the wrinkles.
There is only one memory that stands before all of those terrible recollections. The one time I was told simply, “I believe you.”
An often overlooked need of our community is that of mentors. This is especially true for the youth that come from homes with domestic violence or that have histories of abuse. Living in an unstable environment where the two people that are meant to protect you are the ones putting you in danger often leads to a destructive adolescence, rebellion, self-inflicted harm, etc. It’s not an easy undertaking. There are cultural issues, community awkwardness, and other hurdles to overcome before you can really establish yourself as a mentor to a child in need.
When we say “mentor” we don’t mean a role model. We are referring to a confidante. Someone who is on the youth’s side 100%, no questions asked. Many times this is not an open relationship since the parents would typically nip this relationship in the bud since it seeks to overthrow the balance of power, control, and grasp the abuser holds.
I discovered my aforementioned confidante when I was thirteen years old. It took so much courage to form the words and tell her that my father abused us and my mother. I remember sitting in her car, in the rain, at the masjid, as my tears matched the rain, drop for drop. She was five years older than I was and she not only formed a relationship with me, but a farce of a relationship with my father as well, to better her chances of being able to see me on a regular basis and check up on me. She gave me one of my first, of many, instances of refuge in a life that was constantly in flux. She’d never had any experience with victims of abuse, but her familiarity with love and care was enough to overcome that. Over the years she would sit and listen, with patience, with empathy. She gave me a chance to catch my breath when it seemed that I couldn’t stop running from my troubles. She let me cope. She let me hope.
Authors Blog: Shrouded Memories